‘Happy Birthday’ copyright held invalid

‘Happy Birthday’ copyright held invalid

Until now, Warner has asked for royalties from anyone who wanted to sing or play “Happy Birthday to You” — with the lyrics — as part of a profit-making enterprise. Royalties were most often collected from stage productions, television shows, movies or greeting cards. But even those who wanted to sing the song publicly as part of a business, say a restaurant owner giving out free birthday cake to patrons, technically had to pay to use the song, prompting creative renditions at chain eateries trying to avoid paying royalties.

I hope this is the death knell of every non-‘Happy Birthday’ song all of those tchotchke-full restaurants have been forcing their underpaid and overworked waitstaffers to sing to uncomfortable diners.

“Happy birthday” lawsuit takes a(n unexpectedly interesting) turn

“Happy birthday” lawsuit takes a(n unexpectedly interesting) turn

Did you know copyright lawyers have waged a legal battle over ‘Happy Birthday’ for a long time? They have, and, somehow, it recently got interesting.

If this proposition is accepted by the judge, Warner/Chappell may lose out on a cash cow that is reported to reap $2 million a year in revenue. Filmmakers like the named plaintiffs — and others who have forked over as much as six figures to license — would no longer have to pay a penny to feature “Happy Birthday” in motion pictures and television shows.

If the copyright the company has been using for years to charge people licensing fees is invalidated, we may see a whole lot of lawsuits aimed at the would-be copyright holders to recoup those licensing fees.

Birthday candles,” Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

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